Dr. K. M. George
Former UN Advisor;
CEO & President,
Sustainable Development Forum
Mobile: 99 49 67 08 87
Sustainable development is a catch phrase and the new paradigm of development. It meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources. The debate about climate change mitigation is a new policy thrust area. Since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the key treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol-1995, climate change has become a problem of the global community demanding collective and concerted action. Sadly it has failed to reduce green housegas (GHG) emissions. Thus it has failed the most vulnerable communities across the world. SDGs aim to provide better lives for people in poor countries in terms of human development index. It increases income and employment. There are 17 SDGs as compared to eight under the erstwhile MDGs. It is known as Agenda 2030.It applies to all 193 countries with its 169 targets.
Acknowledgments: Acknowledging the help received from others is a difficult task. I am deeply indebted to Mr. Kannan K. (Former Director of ADB); Rev. Dr. Abraham Mulamootil (Chairman – peacepeopleplanet.org); Dr. M.C. George & Dr. N. P. Kurup for the comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
GOAL 13: Climate Action
GOAL 14: Life below Water
GOAL 15: Life on Land
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
There are a few cross cutting issues in SDGs like women and gender equality, education, gender, technology, etc. It is said that there are competing goals and very many confusing goals under SDGs. It can be achieved with wider participation of member countries along with NGOs, GROs and GRSOs with horizontal and vertical linkages.
Climate is the weather of a place and may differ from season to season. While weather changes in a few hours, climate may change over hundreds of years due to many factors including human interventions. Biggest environmental risk is air pollution. It happens due to population explosion, resource depletion and overreliance on fossil fuel. Climate changes may cause floods, landslides, tsunamis, earth quakes, fire, coastal erosion, cyclones, sea level rise, droughts, avalanches, cloud bursting, crop damages due to increased pest attacks, etc. To counter it scientists and economists may design DICE—dynamic integrated model of climate and the economy to sort out emissions and to encourage geo engineering among others. Efforts for planting more trees as a social mission or movement must be embarked up on. Conscious efforts are required to ban vehicle emissions; to include climate changes in the curriculum of students and to harness synergies that exist between climate change and sustainable development. Again encourage to make use of artificial intelligence to help farmers jointly with ICRISAT and Micro Soft sowing App. Students may be made ambassadors to propagate the ill effects of climate change by using less water and less energy. Resilience building in social- ecological systems is the need of the hour. Regional economic organisations like KEA along with NGOs, GROs and GRSOs may be profitably utilised in the design of integrated responses and to exploit synergies between climate change and other polices like bio diversity among others, as proactive partners to mitigate this menace.
Sustainable development; economic development; human development; quality of life; Sustainable development goals; millennium development goals; NGOs; GROs; GRSOs; climate change; air pollution; global warming; artificial intelligence; mitigation strategy; resilience; regional organisations; synergies; biodiversity; Kyoto Protocol; green gas emissions; knowledge society; primary sector; affluent society; marginal cost-marginal returns.
1.0 The process of development means many things contextually. It means maturing, enlargement, expansion, progressively expanding, blooming etc. This leads us to the latest catch phrase namely sustainable development. It is being embraced as the new paradigm of development.
2.0 Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is aimed at conducting development without depletion of natural resources. It is assumed to provide adequate fillip for meeting human development goals. It includes health, nutrition, education, clean water, and environment to mention a few such parameters. As such it demands international polices to be evolved to support this process and its augmentation.
3.0 In international parlance, it is the felt need and means to provide better lives for people in poor countries. Thus, the physical and economic, stainable development aims to bring about positive changes like addition of environmental and social components.
The very purpose of development is to raise the level and quality of life of people. In simple language, it means further creation and expansion of income and employment.
4.0 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Closely on the heel of the discernible impact of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it was collectively decided by the UN to bring about dimensional change in its new avatar now known as SDGs. While MDGs had only eight goals, SDGs have 17goals with 169 targets.
5.0 The MDGs have, overall, been remarkably successful in focusing attention and mobilizing resources to address the major gaps in human development. Some of the MDGs’ key targets, such as halving the global poverty rate, were met by 2015. However, achieving the health goals was difficult under the MDGs, as Africa lagged behind other parts of the world, despite the substantial progress it has made since 2000. The consortium of organizations led by the Korea Development Institute (KDI) prepared report to examine the targets that have been met and considers the global implications of the remaining unmet goals. It concluded that the global community must build on the MDGs experience for moving beyond meeting basic human needs in order to promote dynamic, inclusive and sustainable development.
6.0 The SDGs cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. It is known as, “Transforming our world”. It is also known as—“Agenda 2030”. While the SDGs cover all countries of the world-193 –its predecessor, the MDGs focused on the developed and developing nations separately.
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
7.0 SDGs List
8.0 Criticism of SDGs
SDGs have many competing goals. There are too many goals to meet. Besides, it has high cost of achieving the stated SDG goals. But there are several cross cutting issues like women and gender equality; education and gender, technology issues.
9.0 Based on reports, there are few supporting organisations for the successful implementation of the SDGs at country level. They include NGOs, Grass Roots Organisations (GROs) as well as Grass Roots Support Organisations (GRSOs). In fact the institutional sustainability is vital for SDGs’ success. It is possible with the optimum blend of horizontal and vertical linkages among the GROs and GRSOs.
10.0 Having seen the background of sustainable development and the MDGs, an effort is made to understand the relevance and thematic importance of goal number 13,namely climate actions, which has huge impacts of SDGs goals.
The debate about climate change mitigation is an actively emerging new policy thrust area. Since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the key treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol-1995, climate change has become a huge challenge of the global community demanding collective and concerted action. Sadly it has failed to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, it has failed the most vulnerable communities across the world.
This is the bone of contention belatedly globally. In fact, the recent American threat manifested in its withdrawal from climate change discussions would decelerate the process of development globally, and huge threat to achieving SDGs.
Climate Change & SD
11.0 Climate is the statistics of weather over long periods of time. It is measured by assessing the patterns of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. Climate differs from weather, in that weather only describes the short-term conditions of these variables in a given region. The sum total around the earth is the global climate. When there is a visible change in the usual weather, it can be called as climate change. It is the change in earth’s climate. While weather can change in a few hours, climate may change over decades or hundreds of years.
12.0 Climate change knows no boundaries. It is not a new phenomenon. It is said that by 2050 sea levels may rise to 0.5 meters leading to submerging and inundating many nations and low lying regions in the world. It must be a cause of concern for us all.
13.0 There is a thick blanket like cover over the mother earth known as ozone layer. It protects the earth from ultra violet radiations. Too much of greenhouse gas emissions go up in the atmosphere and thus putting a hole in the ozone layer umbrella cover. Here it is more damaging as it is mostly in the form of CFC gases. Many greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxide, while others are synthetic. Those that are man-made include the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), as well as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). There are many reasons or causes for climate change. Some are man-made while others are nature’s contributions. Most are triggered by human activities. It may be due to population explosion, resource depletion, over reliance on fossil fuel usage by motor vehicles and factories, volcano eruptions, cutting and burning of forest cover, etc. This gas gets into air. It may be recalled that the biggest environmental risk is air pollution.
14.0 We must not lose sight of the ill effects of climate change. They among others include, floods, landslides, tsunamis, earth quakes, forest fires, coastal erosion, river bank erosions, cyclones, droughts, avalanches, etc.
15.0 Global warming is a daunting task for scientists and economists alike. It may be worthwhile to consider seriously an integrated model to contain global warming. DICE—Dynamic Integrated Model of Climate and the Economy may be taken up seriously.(The Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model, referred to as the DICE model or Dice model, is a computer-based integrated assessment model developed by William Nordhaus that “integrates in an end-to-end fashion the economics, carbon cycle, climate science, and impacts in a highly aggregated model that allows a weighing of the costs and benefits of taking steps to slow greenhouse warming.). This model may sort out emission problems, climate change and assessing damages on war footing. It must accord priority in evolving geo-engineering.
16.0 How to mitigate climate change?
Climate change is a reality and it is around us in everyday life, and must be contained and mitigated. The causes are to be seriously looked in to closely to slowly revert it. Planting of trees must be accorded top priority. Banning all vehicles which cause air pollution with its emissions is a must policy priority. Legal compulsions/actions without fail must be in place. Alternates like solar power maybe taken up on war footing. Houses, hostels, hospitals, hotels, gaols, schools, colleges, theatres, places of worship, courts, airports, all sorts of buildings having more than 2000 square feet areas, canals, rivers, lakes and the like to be brought under the coverage of solar power generation and may be given lavish incentives for its adoption and popularisation. The solar technology is now advanced and there is no reason for not pursuing it vigorously.
It is well known that many policy experts argue that renewable energy technologies and geo-engineering mechanisms that control carbon emissions can solve the world’s climate problem. Containing carbon emissions is the most effective form of mitigation. We should actively consider implementing carbon credit and carbon tax regime rigorously. So, why politicians and policy makers are shying away from implementing this policy?
17.0 In Taiwan schools, waste management was introduced in the curriculum with discernible impact inculcating the sprit to contain the ill effects of climate change from a tender age. Other countries may introduce such climate change in the curriculum of schools. This would imbibe attitudinal and mental revolution among the children. Media including TV, news papers and social media to be fully and profitably used to champion to mitigating the ill effects of climate change.
18.0 As clear synergies exists between climate change and sustainable development, policy makers must make conscious efforts to exploit it for the benefit of humanity starting from single individual to global level. Another thrust area is to make use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help farmers under the aegis of ICRISAT and Micro Soft under AI sowing App, etc to mitigate the ill effects of climate change.
19.0 Here one should note the emergence of knowledge society to augment the process of sustainable development and to contain the ill effects of climate change. It would be a handmaid to mitigate the green gas emissions. In fact, knowledge society and knowledge workers are synonymous. It was first used by the Princeton economist Prof Machlup in 1960.Later Peter Drucker used it a couple of times. In 1958 John Galbraith wrote,” The Affluent Society”—financial security. In knowledge society a large number will have social affluence—social standing.
20.0 Primary sector is the back bone of the economy in all developing economies. Conscious policy efforts are required to make agriculture and allied activities to be remunerative as the opportunity cost is tending to zero for all those who are engaged in the primary sector. Farmer suicides are national shame for any civilized government. At least marginal returns must be equal to marginal cost. Primary sector admittedly can leverage the success of the implementation of SDGs.
21.0 Both knowledge society and primary sector to be holistically woven together to make the sustainable development a success story and knowledge society to contain the ill effects of climate change.
22.0 People are to be educated to use less water; shut taps; turn off TVS, Air cons, fridge sand lights when not required. For this, sensitisation programmes are to be conducted in all villages and village clusters, the world over with time bound programme schedules. NGOs, GROs and GRSOs may be fully deployed to make the very best for better future.
23.0 As the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) 2002, concluded, resilience in building in social- ecological systems and strategies is the need of the hour. Fifteen years have gone!
24.0 Regional economic organisations like Kerala Economic Association, Indian Economic Association, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics and the like are to assist in the design of integrated responses and to exploit synergies between climate change and other polices like biodiversity and anti – desertification for ensuring sustainable development.
25.0 Flagging Follow up Actions:
The follow up action agenda is primarily for India. It can be generalised for other developing countries too taking into consideration location specific details.
* A nationwide cap on coal use may be used judiciously to contain green gas emissions. Carrot and stick policy with command and control measures may be used to rein in pollution as opposed to subsidies or taxes. An integrated approach must be adopted within a given time frame.
* Both knowledge society and primary sector to be holistically woven together to make the sustainable development a success story and knowledge society to contain the ill effects of climate change.
* Regional economic organisations like Kerala Economic Association (KEA), Indian Economic Association, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics and the like are to assist in the design of integrated responses and to exploit synergies between climate change and other polices like biodiversity and anti –desertification for ensuring sustainable development. SDF is willing to act as a nodal agency to augment the process on demand.
* Colleges under the leadership of NSS and Economic Associations to launch plastic free community around. Say “NO TO PLASTICS” use degradable like used news papers!
* Under the NSS each college to adopt 10 schools around to create awareness on the ill effects of climate change and to make the homes of students plastic and litter free. It should be time bound and reported in the media for all.
* NSS and Economic Associations of colleges to tie up with local clubs and such other units like Rotary, YMCA, YWCA, Lions, NGOs, SNDP, NSS, Christian and Muslim youth groups, etc. to create awareness on the theme by organising special seminars.
* Self Help Groups (SHGs) may be sensitised along with local self government bodies like Municipalities and Gram Panchayats to make their area of operation litter free and plastic free. They would sensitise the residents to adopt solar and bio–gas energy on a wider scale. Local TV channels need to play a big role in helping in this campaign.
* Campaigns like Swatch (SWACHH) Bharath may be taken up in each school and college and funds may be ear marked by the government and University Grants Commission (UGC) to make India emission free, plastic free and litter free.
* Under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) banks and companies may associate with local self government bodies and NGOs, GROs and GRSOs as well as NSS and Economic Association of Colleges to augment the process to mitigate the ill effects of climate change.
* Policy changes may be brought about to include climate change as a major theme in the curriculum of schools emphasising the slogan of green and clean energy, etc. while focusing on sustainable development. The classic example in sight is the experience and experiment done at the MACFAST (MACFAST model of Green and Clean Energy).
* Time is the essence here. We are now running out of time to save humanity. Ask yourself what you as the audience here can do to make mother earth a better place to live for ourselves and our generations to come. We have only one mother earth; no new planets have been discovered for planetary migration. You decide if we should prosper or perish.